RF Video Shoot Interview with Tully Blanchard

This interview was filmed on October 2, 1999. It runs about two hours and fifteen minutes long


The interview starts with Tully being asked about his college career. Tully said it was a free education. He said that he was a quarterback in high school and started for three years. He said that a lot of schools in the Southwest Conference offered him scholarships and he chose Southern Methodist University. He refers to college football as a “meat market” and said you were pressured constantly. Midway through his freshman season, the coach that recruited him got fired and they ended up changing the whole offense and he didn’t get along with the new coach and was moved to fullback. He came back to school as a sophomore and was bigger than before then was switched to defensive end then primarily on the kickoff team. He says that shocked him and he ended up dropping out of school before the first game as he did not want to be a special teamer.

He went back to San Antonio to work for his dad, helping produce Southwest Championship Wrestling and to attend junior college. He said that he learned more about how to get stuff done there than in school. He also claims that he took 34 credits between a semester and a summer school semester then went on to start three years at West Texas State.

He worked for Georgia Championship Wrestling when school was out of session. He then said he took that knowledge and brought it back to Southwest Championship Wrestling. He then says how they bought a grocery store and would fill it with 400 people. He said the atmosphere was electric from the late 70’s to the early 80’s. The shows ran on USA and they did house shows all over Texas but the territory was in trouble when Watts took over Houston, which was their biggest money town.

Tully said they went broke paying wrestlers, stating that most companies paid about 30% off the gate while they paid 46%. He also claims that opening match guys were earning $900 weekly. Tully then goes on to say that he failed as he did not have a disciplined vision. He said that he and other guys had too much time to screw around and preaches that without vision, you perish. Tully said that he helped the companies reach its peak and was also responsible for the downfall.

He then says that at one point, his cocaine addiction had gotten so bad that he had to leave the promotion for a while in order to care for himself. He said that the Bushwhackers ended up taking over the booking duties. Tully said he got himself in shape but had a lot of financial problems.

He is then asked about the Von Erich’s taking over Texas. He claims that his dad’s partner from the TV station wanted them to steal money from the gate and they didn’t so he switched sides and went with Fritz. Tully then states how his parents called him recently and learned that guy was sentenced to fifteen years in prison.

Tully said at one point, the show was the highest rated program on the USA Network. He then tells a story about how at the time, they were paying $7,000 weekly for the TV slot and was figuring out a way to have it pay for itself but lacked the proper vision. He said after losing TV in San Antonio and Dallas, they had little money and could not go to the NWA as they were an outlaw promotion. Tully thought up an idea that he said was dumb. He wanted to show USA how valuable his show was to them and on one show, he put up a number on the screen for fans to call and request their favorite match but the number was for the USA switchboard and it got jammed up. He claims at that point, USA did not want them any longer and that is when Vince came in and paid USA for the slot.

He is asked his memories of Gino Hernandez. Tully said that he wanted to be like Elvis Presley and in some ways, he was. Tully puts over Gino for his talents and said he pleaded with him to go to North Carolina and quit screwing around but said that Gino wanted to hang with the gamblers and drug dealers. Tully then goes on to say how Gino owed a lot of money to gamblers and believes they might have killed him. He said that Gino always hung out with a rough crowd. I really wished they discussed Gino a lot more than they did but these interviewers just seemed in awe of Blanchard and let him preach and ramble at will.

After Southwest, he went to work for Bob Geigel in Kansas for a month and said it was brutal. It was the winter and he referred to it as Siberia. He goes on to say that the seats were empty and that a show headlined by Flair only drew $2,200.

His next stop was in St. Louis. He said that Geigel would send the undercard guys there to work so they could earn some money. He said he tore the house down with Buzz Tyler. He also goes on about how he learned a ton from working with Wahoo McDaniel and Johnny Valentine, who would critique him after his matches. Tully said to always mimic a successful guy if you wanted to get over.

Tully recalls the exact date that he started with Crockett Promotions, February 14th, 1984. He met Crockett at the Marriott in St. Louis and told him that he could make them money. They called him shortly after that and gave him a shot.

When he first arrived, he worked with Mark Youngblood and won the Mid-Atlantic Television Title. After that he worked with Ricky Steamboat at Starcade. After a while, he is able to remember how he worked with him five times before that match, including an hour long broadway the day prior.

Tully recalls how at this time, business was down and they had three bookers, one in each state (Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina) and said that Dusty asked him for advice, as he was a booker. He claims he told Dusty that you put your best guys against each other. Dusty said that Wahoo McDaniel wanted to work with him and Tully said he liked Wahoo but he only looked for himself. Tully said he learned about politics here and said that it is not like football, where the best players play. He also said that he did not want a push only because he was a booker’s kid, like Eric Gulas. He then said he told Dusty that he should face him and Wahoo and Flair should go at it and he could make  Dusty look good. He said looking back at Dusty’s career, he always devoured the heels in short matches but he got longer matches out of him and still came out as a star.

He is asked if there was a problem of Dusty booking himself as a top guy. Tully said that it’s a problem for everyone who does that.

Tully is asked how the Four Horsemen were formed. He said It was by accident. He recalls one night at the end of 1985, he was teaming with Flair and Arn in a six-man tag and said that Arn referred to them as the Horsemen, named after Notre Dame’s backfield in the 1950’s. He said it caught on in Greensboro when several college kids who started to dress like them and carry around flash cards. Tully claims that he went to Crockett in the dressing room and told him how they were really over and after that, the promotional machine began. Tully states that happens when the promotion grows organically. He then says that he never realized just how over the Horsemen were until 1994 Slamboree when he flashed the four fingers sign and it got the biggest crowd response of the night.

He speaks more of the success of the Horsemen, saying it worked as they always talked about being a Horseman and not about their opponents, saying that there is only so many ways that you can say how you will beat your opponents. Tully then said being a Horseman was a “doctorate on how to live life.” Tully said that many try to duplicate their success but it fails as they do not know how it works.  

He recalls how they tried to put them back together again in 1992. He flew to Atlanta and spoke with Ole and Dusty and was offered $500 a day. They wanted him to debut at the PPV two months away. He then said that he wrote a letter saying that he was not coming and told them not to advertise. Tully said that he bought the PPV to see what they would do and noticed how after they announced the first three guys, they announced Paul Roma as the 4th guy and how they had zero confidence. He puts over Roma for being good in the gym and said they had good matches with him and Jim Powers in the WWF.

When asked how Lex Luger came into the group, Tully said that Ole got fired for pissing off Dusty. He said that they were franchise players but not the reason for NWA going national as they already had a show on TBS.

Tully said that there was no ego problem within the group as they all knew how the business worked. He said in reality, they were not the toughest guys on the card and usually the second match guy was the toughed guy. He laughs about how his dad told him that it was show-business.

Back to the Horsemen, he said that no one objected to Luger joining the group. He then says the group became the strongest when Barry Windham joined and said that there was no telling how big the promotion could have gotten if they got behind them. He then goes on to say how they always tried to split them up and were constantly beat but the crowds still paid to see them.

Tully goes on about how he speaks in prisons today then asks the interviewers for tapes to show the wrestlers. He said that he wrote letters to his former employers but they went ignored. Tully then says that his “I Quit” match against Magnum TA at Starcade 85’ is the favorite among the inmates. Not a surprise at all.

Tully goes on about how at one point, he stopped defending wrestling years before he got out. He goes on for several minutes about how he destroyed his body for the fans entertainment. He then said he did the craziest stuff while he was high then jokes how they now call that “extreme.”

Up next is when Bill Watts sold his company to Crockett. He said that he was too caught up in his own business to pay attention. He then says that the idea was for them to be a farm system of sorts that would elevate the younger guys by working on the same card as a hot main event match.

Tully is then asked how he and Arn wound up in the WWF. He said his contract ran out in April and was one of the first yearly guaranteed contracts, along with Flair, Dusty, and Magnum. He then said how the Road Warriors came in and got $500,000 a year and then found out that Paul Ellering was making more than he and Arn. He was supposed to fly out to Dallas and negotiate but missed the plane. He then states that they never pushed to meet with him again, claiming that they knew he was faithful and would not go anywhere. During this time, Turner was attempting to buy the promotion from Crockett and everyone had to meet with a guy from Turner, who Tully said was the same who hired Jim Herd. Tully goes on to say how he was never part of the corporate world and that his main problem was that he was too honest and told this guy that the ratings were down because there comes a point where the booker cannot be the top star and that they needed to make new stars, which he said ended up getting back to Crockett and Dusty and they were upset. Tully said that Crockett called him up and said he was not loyal then Tully told him that he was in the ring 335 days a year and would cut himself frequently in his matches, thus making him extremely loyal. The following week, the travel sheet came out and he was left off the list and he asked JJ Dillon when he wanted the belts, saying that he was leaving the company. The interviewers then said how they snuck into the arena that night and taped the match.

In the WWF, he said that he and Arn were promised the belts then ended up jobbing to the Bushwhackers at house shows. Tully then said he quickly learned that Vince took talent from other companies to hurt them, not to make his own company better. Tully said he was disappointed there. He then said how it was different than the NWA as Vince called all the shots. Tully said that when they did get the belts, they ended up as the main event on the “C” shows and took those shows from losing money to becoming a money maker for the company. He also said that the politics were heavy in the WWF, with guys on the road ratting you out to the office. He then jokes about how he should have filed for discrimination, saying it was okay for you to use pills and smoke pot but not to use cocaine, referencing his failed drug test.

He said that Vince is a genius because he can take lesser talent and ability and still produce a profitable product. Tully said that while in the WWF, he worked on an open contract.

While in the WWF, Tully told Arn that Turner started to hand out big contracts. He then said how Flair used them to get a deal that was close to one million dollars a year. He then said that they (Horsemen) should have stayed as a group and negotiated in strength. Anyway, Tully told Arn that they should be able to go back and get a good contract and called Jim Barnett to send out a feeler about rejoining the Horsemen. He said that Jim Herd called and offered them each a three-year contract for $250,000 yearly. He said the following week while in Denver, they gave notice to Vince but he would not let them leave until after the Survivor Series. During that 60 day period, Tully was in Philadelphia and they had a drug test. Tully knew that he would fail for cocaine and when he did, he was suspended. He then said how they only tested for cocaine back then and the policy was a six-week suspension for your first offense. He flew back to Charlotte and thought nothing of it then on November 13, 1989 at 1:00am, Flair called Tully and told him that Herd cancelled the deal as he found out that Tully failed the drug test. Tully said at this moment, he did not know what to do as he had car payments and a certain lifestyle he lived that required money and now the two major companies both did not want him. He said it was this moment that led him to do lectures in prison today.

Tully then said how this was when Jesus took over his life, stating he heard a calm voice telling him that everything will be okay. He woke up next to his girlfriend that morning and told her that she needed to go home and took her to the airport. He wound up marrying this woman and they now have four children together. Tully said at the beginning, he was too embarrassed to go into church but needed to change his life, which is what he tells the inmates today. He also recalls at this time he only felt happy when he took drugs or drank.

Arn ended up going back to Turner but ended up losing money out of the deal as they wanted him back as part of a team with Tully. He said that Arn ended up losing about $146,000 out of the whole thing.

Tully said that when he came back to face Terry Funk in Philadelphia at Slamboree 1994, he got into shape and was looking to get a contract. He then said when he got there, he was surprised to learn that he was doing the job, claiming that he was a bigger draw that Funk in Philadelphia. He then said that Funk must have still thought he was the young boy in college in Texas. He then said he has no problems doing jobs as long as they are for a reason and didn’t want to be a job guy, saying he never was and did not need to be a wrestler that bad. When Funk found out, he was pissed as was Flair and Bischoff. Tully said that he kept on getting up from Funk’s piledrivers and flips and thought it was humorous.

Tully is then asked what makes you a success in wrestling. He said that it requires proper vision and a goal each night to steal the show. He said his goal was to make it a legitimate and energetic business.

He is asked about his matches with Shane Douglas in ECW. He said that the problem with their hour-long match was that it was only good for the first 35 minutes. He then states that people didn’t believe Shane as a heel because he was too handsome and that no one believes him as a face due to his arrogance. Tully said he only had two weeks to get into shape for this match. He then said there was no plan to start a program but just to put over Douglas. They had a second match and he said the plan was to have multiple people run in but Tully states he could put over Shane and he did and that was the end of his ECW run.

He is asked about his top three workers. Tully just says that wrestlers are not actors because if they were, the talented ones would always shine through. He then goes on to say how the successful wrestlers are the ones who are an extension of their personality. He recalls how his dad told him that he was naturally cocky and conceited. He said that is why he made for a horrible babyface and notes how Nick Bockwinkel only became successful after turning heel.

He loved the idea for the parking lot brawl with Dusty. His favorite towns were Philly, Baltimore, and Charlotte. He liked the idea of the “Great American Bash” tour was a good idea and it was successful for him financially. He said at that time, the business became “big show” oriented and it took away from the everyday house show matches. He said TV killed the house show business but that was happening a long time ago then notes how Vince said that you cannot duplicate the excitement and quickness of a TV show. He then ads how there are not enough performers today to make it exciting.

Asked who came up with Wargames. Said it could have been Dusty. Said they were long, hard matches but liked the concept, which he said is only as good as the performers and said that they could make any concept look good.

Said Baby Doll was one of a kind, claiming that he was the hottest valet ever. He then said originally looking for Sunshine to be his valet.  Took Baby Doll after he and dusty saw her wrestle. Calls it instant success and could turn her into a manager. He said that you had to keep a manager in check so the performer got over. Said the only time she did things was to hand him something.

On the subject of wrestling Tatsumi Fujinami in Japan, he said it was a one shot deal and his only time in Japan. He liked the food but didn’t go crazy as he was done with that chapter of his life.

He said that he was at an autograph signing with the original Horsemen for the first time in thirteen years last month.

He liked his matches with the Rock & Roll Express. He then says that no one could get beat up like Ricky Morton. Said it was a pleasure to hear the crowd react to those matches.

He is asked again about his top three workers in the business. Said that Wahoo McDaniel, Jose Lothario (Said he was one of the best babyfaces), were most influential. Said he had great matches with Magnum TA and Barry Windham. He calls Brad Armstrong a great worker and puts over Dusty for selling and being able to make a great comeback. He then said how he and Arn had great matches with the Road Warriors but then said there weren’t too many guys who they couldn’t have good matches with.

He tells the fans that he is going to prisons and telling them that there life can be changed through God and Jesus Christ and that is all he is about today. He goes on about the perils of the wrestling business and then about the prison system and how the prisoners have no hope in anything but if their hearts are in god, they can change their entire outlook. He closes by saying although not a star anymore, you can meet someone in a prison that he preached to and they will tell you something different.

Final Thoughts:  I thought it was a decent shoot but it didn’t really blow me away or anything. Tully had a good mind for the business but it’s evident by his stories and just by listening to him speak that he easily rubbed people the wrong way and had little awareness he was doing just that. Tully did have a lot of long pauses and did preach quite a bit and if the interviewers weren’t in such awe, they might have been able to reign in him when he went off topic. This was just as much about Tully the person as it was his wrestling career. He does not go in depth during the people he worked with and they spend little time covering his stay in the WWF. I would recommended it strongly for fans of Tully and for those who are not and a fan of shoots, I would give it a mild recommendation.